Keep in mind for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team that it’s going to be all about the spawn this week on West Point Lake — more likely the shad spawn than the black bass spawn, however.
Although a late spring has knocked back the bass spawn by a couple weeks, La Grange, Ga., is far enough south that West Point’s largemouth and spotted bass will likely be trending postspawn when the Elite Series pros begin competition May 2.
That should be right about the time that this lowland reservoir’s gizzard shad population begins to spawn. If that happens, expect to see pros slinging topwaters on the gravel points, riprap banks, clay bottoms and other hard structure over which shad drop their eggs.
The topwater spawning shad bite is a low-light, here-today-gone-tomorrow bite, so B and C plans will be equally important. Thanks to a recently full moon, some spawning fish will surely be available to sight fishermen, but beds alone will not likely account for the winning bags.
Other patterns likely to be successful are cranking and football-jigging gravel points; light-line finesse tactics over and around submerged wood, brush and rock; and flipping shallow wood (which is prevalent) and flooded vegetation. The availability of shoreline vegetation to flip will be determined by lake level, always an unknown on reservoirs because of weather and power-generation schedules. West Point does not feature much aquatic vegetation, so there’s only shallow grass if the water rises to flood the lake’s shoreline buffer vegetation. As of Monday morning, the lake was 0.36 feet above full pool.
One thing’s for certain: Anglers will be burning a lot of gas, running multiple patterns as conditions change. Overcast skies will likely keep anglers shallow longer. High bluebird skies will likely pull anglers off the morning topwater bite and out to deeper cover sooner.
So, what does that mean to Fantasy Fishing players? Load your roster with versatile anglers that excel at fishing fast, chasing shad and adapting to changing postspawn conditions. Such anglers will likely have had prior success in late April, early May tournaments on other Chattahoochee River impoundments, so we’ll review angler histories. You can listen to my podcast here:
With other anglers getting all the headlines lately, the time is ripe for a classic KVD game-changing move. With less than 30 percent of players picking him this week, VanDam’s as close as he can be to flying under the radar. He finished seventh here in 2011, and he fared well also in two other springtime events on Chattahoochee River reservoirs. On Clarks Hill, he placed fourth in early May 2008 and 12th in early March 2005. On Eufaula, he placed 20th in early March 2004.
Considering his 2011 runner-up finish here and a third place on Clarks Hill in 2008, Edwin Evers (16.9 percent) is likely to finish high again. Add in the momentum of leading the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and you can make a good case to pick him. On the other hand, he finished 95th and 75th on Clarks Hill in May of 2006 and 2004.
Bucket A’s best value is arguably Terry Scroggins (4.8 percent). He enters this week second in AOY points, having placed third and sixth in this season’s first and third Elite Series events (and in the Top 50 in the second). He finished 25th on West Point in early May 2011, third on Clarks Hill in late May 2010 and 19th and 28th there in May 2005 and 2006. On Eufaula, he finished second in May 2006 and 48th in March 2004.
Need a high-risk/high-reward pick to make a move against the frontrunner-picking field? If you’re outside the 90th percentile in Fantasy Fishing points, consider it. Go with Casey Ashley (2.1 percent). He finished 26th here in 2011 and first and fifth on Clarks Hill in May of 2008 and 2006.
See picks for Buckets B, C, D and E on the next page.